Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP) is a certified Community Development Financial Institution that provides lending, financial development services, and public policy advocacy in economically distressed communities. Part of the Southern Bancorp family of financial organizations, SBCP works in tandem with Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company and Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks, toward a shared mission of creating economic opportunity for all.
For thirty years, Southern Bancorp Community Partners has been working to provide entrepreneurs, homeowners, and individuals with the financial tools needed to achieve the American Dream – regardless of their zip code. From credit repair and financial education to lending and public policy advocacy, Southern Bancorp Community Partners has a long history of creating economic opportunity in communities that need it most.
View our Impact Map to learn some of their stories.
CEO, Southern Bancorp, Inc.
CEO, Southern Bancorp Community Partners
Darrin Williams’ career is a unique combination of law, business, and politics. Currently serving as the CEO of Southern Bancorp, Inc., Williams oversees the strategic direction and operations of each of Southern’s three Community Development Financial Institutions: Southern Bancorp, Inc., a bank holding company; Southern Bancorp Bank, one of America’s largest rural development banks; and Southern Bancorp Community Partners, a 501(c)(3) development finance and lending organization – collectively known as “Southern.”
Southern was founded nearly thirty years ago when some of the nation’s most notable political, business and philanthropic leaders, including Bill Clinton, Rob Walton, Muhammad Yunus and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation to name a few, came together around a central idea – that the economic challenges facing many underserved communities could in part be addressed through the creation of a values-based financial organization focused on providing these services to those who most need them. With an initial investment of approximately $10 million and a mission to create economic opportunity, Southern has grown to become one of the most effective and largest community development organizations in the United States, as well as a model for an entire industry of mission-focused financial institutions known as Community Development Financial Institutions. Southern Bancorp today is a $1.2 billion asset organization with over 80,000 customers and 43 branches located primarily in underserved markets in the Mid-South.
Prior to leading Southern, Williams served as managing partner at the law firm of Carney, Williams, Bates, Pulliam & Bowman, PLLC, where he focused on representing institutional investors and consumers in class action litigation against some of the nation’s largest publicly traded companies. Williams also served three terms of elected office in the Arkansas House of Representatives (2008-2013), serving as Speaker Pro Tempore of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly. As a lawmaker, he was recognized nationally for his legislative accomplishments, including being named a Champion of Small Business by the National Capital Coalition, an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership by the Aspen Institute, and listed as one of 12 state legislators from around the country to watch by Governing Magazine. Williams received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College, his Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University School of Law, and his Master of Laws degree in Securities and Financial Regulation from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.
COO, Southern Bancorp Community Partners
Dr. Karama Neal serves as Chief Operating Officer for Southern Bancorp Community Partners (SBCP) where she oversees all asset building and public policy programs as well as partner relations, grant reporting, and staff supervision. Prior to joining SBCP in 2009, Dr. Neal served as an adjunct professor and program director at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in genetics. In addition to holding a M.A. in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University Chicago and a B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College, Dr. Neal has completed the Impact Investing Programme at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. She serves on the board of the Little Rock Branch of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank and is a frequently requested speaker and panel member regarding economic opportunity.
Director of Public Policy, Southern Bancorp Community Partners
Chief Loan Officer, Southern Bancorp Community Partners
A Mississippi native, Jennifer Johnson has spent her career fighting for consumers in both the courtroom and the capitol. As a practicing attorney, Johnson spent many years managing complex criminal litigation on behalf of the state in the South Carolina Office of the Solicitor. She later joined the renowned Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) in North Carolina and Washington, DC as the organization’s Senior Legislative Counsel, where she advanced policies related to consumer banking, mortgage reform, and consumer finance issues. During her time with CRL, Johnson was an outspoken advocate for consumers across the country, spearheading several state legislative and advocacy campaigns aimed at halting the creation and continuation of predatory payday lending, car-title lending, and other abusive lending practices. More recently, Johnson returned home to Mississippi where she founded the government relations firm Bridgetown Strategies LLC, which has been politically active in statewide education initiatives.
As Southern Bancorp Community Partners’ Chief Lending Officer, Gary Griffin is responsible for establishing internal loan controls, policies and procedures that ensure the quality of SBCP’s loan portfolio. Griffin has 45 years of banking experience, holding lending and managerial positions in several regional banks as well as serving as Regional CEO for Southern Bancorp Bank, overseeing all operations in Southern’s North Region. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Harding University and is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University and the National Commercial Lending Graduate School at the University of Oklahoma.
Board of Directors
Davenport Group, President and CEO
Clinton School of Public Service, Retired Assistant Professor
W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Program Coordinator
Trust for Public Lands
Senior Vice President and Gulf Coast Program Director (Retired)
John C. Edwards
Edwards Law Office, Principal
Belmont University, President
Appalachian Community Capital, President & CEO
Hudson Cisne & Co. LLP, CPA, Principal
Building Excellent Schools, Fellow
Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services, Inc., CEO
Jacquelyn W. McCray
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Retired Dean
Hope Enterprise Corporation, Vice President of Commercial Business Development
Patco Services, Inc., Principal
Mary Gay Shipley
That Bookstore in Blytheville, Founder (Retired)